William Friday

National Humanities Medal


William Friday's devotion to the humanities speaks for itself in the many roles he has chosen, whether as president of a major university, the head of a trust dedicated to education, or an advocate for the founding of the National Humanities Center. He has championed the humanities throughout his long career in academia and public service.

Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, is currently executive director of the William Rand Kenan, Jr., Charitable Trusts, an organization that has established Kenan professorships on many college campuses. During his thirty years as president of the University of North Carolina, from 1956 to 1986, Friday also served on national boards and commissions concerned with educational issues, including the Carnegie Committee on Higher Education, the President's Task Force on Education, and the Commission on National Changes in Education.

Since his retirement from UNC, Friday has continued to be an active participant in promoting humanities issues. He currently heads a national commission to strengthen the Fulbright overseas scholar program.


About the National Humanities Medal

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year.